After watching their ace, Rudy Owens, struggle with his control yesterday, the Altoona Curve needed a strong outing from Jeff Locke tonight to even their first round series against the Harrisburg Senators. Locke didn’t have the best control tonight, but managed to keep Altoona in the game.
Locke started out rough with two walks in the first inning with just one out. Locke was able to get a grounder to short for what would have been an inning ending double play, but second baseman Chase d’Arnaud threw the relay throw wild, allowing a run to score to make it 1-0 Harrisburg.
Locke ran in to some trouble in the second and third innings. He allowed a walk and a single in the second, but escaped the jam with a pop out to first baseman Matt Hague. He allowed a leadoff double in the third, but worked his way out of that jam. Through three innings, Locke threw 65 pitches with 32 strikes and 33 balls.
Altoona helped Locke out in the second inning. Matt Hague led off with a double, and scored two batters later on a ground out to first by Andrew Lambo. Locke settled down in the fourth inning, needing just ten pitches to retire the side in order. He got more help from Altoona in the bottom half of the fourth inning.
Hague and Hector Gimenez led off the inning with walks. Andrew Lambo came through with a double down the line, bringing in one run. Anthony Norman brought in a second run on a sacrifice fly to right field, making the score 3-1 Altoona. However, Locke couldn’t hold the lead in the fifth inning.
Locke started the fifth by allowing a leadoff double to Steve Lombardozzi. After a wild pitch and a groundout, Locke allowed a single, making the score 3-2. Locke almost got out of the inning when Michael Burgess hit a ground ball to Chase d’Arnaud, ranging far to his left to make the play. D’Arnaud got a glove on the play, and had a chance to make the throw to first, but couldn’t field the ball properly, extending the inning. It was a hard play to make, and d’Arnaud was charged with an error because he was able to get to the ball.
That was all for Locke, who left the game with runners at first and third, and two outs. Derek Hankins came on and issued a wild pitch, allowing Chris Marrero to score, tying the game at 3-3. Hankins got out of the inning without any additional damage, and had a great outing from there, going 3.1 innings, allowing a run on five hits, with no walks and three strikeouts.
Altoona came right back in the bottom of the fifth. Chase d’Arnaud led off the inning with a single, then moved to second on an error by first baseman Marrero on a pickoff attempt. D’Arnaud moved to third on a fly out by Harrison, then scored on a double by Hector Gimenez, giving Altoona a 4-3 lead. Altoona added the eventual winning run on a wild pitch with Andrew Lambo at the plate, bringing in Jordy Mercer. Lambo then hit his second double of the game, bringing in Gimenez to make it 6-4.
Hankins did give up the one run in the seventh inning, but was solid in relief, needing only 40 pitches to get through 3.1 innings. Altoona carried a 6-4 lead to the ninth inning, when Daniel Moskos came on for the save. Moskos ran in to trouble early, allowing a leadoff walk and a single to the first two batters. Moskos got a big break, with a 6-4-3 double play up the middle, with Chase d’Arnaud redeeming himself from earlier in the game, making a strong throw on a close play at first. Moskos ended the game getting Michael Burgess striking out looking.
With the win, Altoona tied the series at one game each, sending the best of five series to Harrisburg tomorrow for two games. The two teams will return to Altoona only if a game five is needed on Sunday. Justin Wilson will take the mound tomorrow for the Curve. Wilson has had control issues in his last two outings, and control has been a major issue for the Altoona pitchers early in this series. Tony Watson is scheduled to pitch game four on Saturday.